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Yes, I’m a…

It took a while to be able to admit, ‘yes I do a bit of writing,’ and then a little bit longer to say, ‘yes, I’m a Playwright.’  Capital P of course.

I got my first writing credit in 2013 on a play called The Family Man with PatPat Theatre Company, a name I still love.  We were a group of friends who’d met on an acting course at the Gaiety School in Dublin, and once the course was finished we wanted to put on our own production. We each had a part, we would meet roughly once a week and improvise scenes based on a broad idea of a family revelation once the patriarch has died.  It was a great learning, great fun too.  I took the writing credit because I had done the majority of the scripting, but it never felt like it was my writing, and I didn’t have the vocab to call it devising or dramaturgy. Because so much was just transcribing what had been improvised between us, and had been edited between myself and the director.  And the idea itself wasn’t mine.

The next experience would be the following year with Underfoot Theatre Company, again post drama school, a group of actors devising our own work simply so that we could perform and be seen. I wrote my own scene based on some original ideas and some wonderful evenings and afternoon improvising with my lovely co-star Aleks Grela.  It was hard but it was fun and I learned even more, but again, I didn’t feel like a playwright just yet; I barely felt like an actor preening and pouting as I was on stage, but it seemed to work for the odd character I had created.

In 2015 I discovered this thing called the Bruntwood Prize which was a godsend to my fragile little ego. Anonymity made it that little bit more exciting and accessible, as I didn’t have to provide any awkward self-promoting bio or exaggerating CV.  All I had to do was come up with a decent pseudonym.

I had been toying with an idea about an interview scenario of 2 women interviewing a man, though he thinks it’s for a job it turns out they’re looking for a sperm donor.

I wrote the thing, got friends to read it, got actor friends to do a table read for me, and took all their feedback and redrafted.  Though probably not enough.  The real achievement at the time was getting all in on time.  The idea never really felt finished.  Suffice to say it didn’t place, but it did make me think, this is doable.

So in the following years, I wrote short pieces from scratch nights and new writing nights, 3 of which were performed at BraveNewWord in 2016.  I went to workshops and courses advertised on London Playwrights Blog – an absolutely treasure of site for opportunities and advice. I wrote any and all ideas that came to me regardless of whether they might even make suitable plays.  I wrote out the internal monologues I was having with my inner demon/deity – which eventually because A Girl and Her God.

I was still a little stuck on the Interview play which just wouldn’t go away, so I tried to come at it from angle, taking some of the characters and putting them into a different configuration.  I wrote a new draft, got some actors to read it, and got their feedback. ‘Lots going on, lots of politics, lots of themes.’  So I pared it back. I took things I had liked in the readthrough, little details in the performances that the actor brought to it, and reconfigured again, paring it back to a basic 3 person story.

Her Not Him came out of that, a love triangle, an exploration of my own angst over coming out late in life, over motherhood and the possibility of never being one, over my confusing relationship history, and falling for someone I never really knew.

So some time this year being able to say ‘Yes I’m a Playwright’ got a little easier given I had 2 plays on the go, that I was talking to directors and theatres about with complete seriousness.

Seeing Her Not Him on the Bruntwood Long List this year was a complete and utter joy, and a much needed bit of validation for embarking on the adventure of setting up Lughnacy.  It’s the confident little line I can add to any emails I’m sending to theatres or other companies that says, ‘Yes I’m actually a playwright and not a complete chancer,’

And I’m so inspired by the competition and that it draws people from  so many different backgrounds and different levels of experience.  Judged purely on the quality of the writing, not the postcode, the CV or anything. I’m dying to see some of the shows that come from the 2017 shortlist.  And can’t wait to have another go at the title in 2019.

 

Her Not Him Workshop

 

 

Exciting times at Lughnacy headquarter.

The ball has started rolling on Her Not Him.

After it’s recent Long-listing for the 2017 Bruntwood Prize, I’ve met with a talented new director (soon to be announced) and started work on the casting and logistics for a workshop to explore movement and physicality of the piece and hopefully trim some of the fat off a pretty talky script before getting it performed next year.

Early doors yet but good momentum so far.

Casting though, that’s going to be fun.  My first experience of writing a Mandy Job posting, that hopefully isn’t too off-putting.  So with any luck it will get some applications, and maybe I’ll be able to resist hitting refresh all day on this:

https://actors.mandy.com/uk/job/445116/her-not-him-workshop

 

Ambitious new venture!

So a new theatre project has come my way, or rather, shoved into my lap to test my mettle, or hopefully on the basis that Lughnacy will be the right home for it.  It might be something small, it might be something huge, it might start small and turn into something epic, either way it’s a got oodles of possibility.

It contains all the elements I can really get excited about, so of course, within 30 minutes of jotting ideas and putting plans onto paper I’m already thinking it’s too much for me; way too ambitious, too brazen.  After all, who am I?  Some wannabe producer, a writer with notions*. Who do I think I am trying to run an event or even trying to engage other professionals so early in the game?

And it’s that voice, that naysayer in my ear, that fires me on, because I know other women are fighting the same internal battle, the one between themselves and their stifled ambitions.  Like bossy and catty, ambitious is a word that’s somehow got negative connotation when applied to women, but mostly, IMHO, by women themselves.

So, yeah, I’m going to put on event.  This is my declaration – putting it out there into the public domain – no take-backsies.  And it will be all about defying that anti-ambition, that shy and polite inclination to take the back seat, and that fear of foolishness that we carry around like an over-packed shopping bag, weighing us down and getting in the way.

I’ll hopefully be less vague about it in future too, when details are a little less scribbled on paper.

 

 

Notions, is one of those great words that means something else in Ireland, like grand, bold, and press.  It’s about having an inflated sense of ones own importance but you can always hear the italics in how it’s said.

Bonjour!

So we’re live at last.  A website, a twitter and 2 plays to flog.

I say bonjour because  of the recent fun-times of creating a website, or rather, getting an easy peasy template – has involved a certain amount of french entanglements and a few utterances of Merde!

But hey-ho, here we go.  It’s live.  I’ve been tweeting already and firing out the emails and applications like mad this morning.

My next challenge will be bringing a little more colour and imagery to both site and twitter, and giving everyone a little taste of the works in the works.

I don’t want to get too bloggy, but in these early days I want to document the journey Lughnacy is on, and share some of the joys and pitfalls of pursuing something you dream of and setting up a theatre company.

I recently left a long and prosperous career as a project manager because I was tired of doing the thing I loved part-time, and never getting the time for more than the basics of writing or performing.  Setting up my own theatre company is a dream come true, and the hardest part so far was coming up with the name.  I hope giving this the time, care and attention it needs will let me produce work I’m proud and passionate about, and I hope audiences will feel that way too.